Blue Blood: Cougars look for consistency in stretch of must-win games

COMMENTARY — Consistency. It’s a word that BYU’s football program needs to take to heart.

The Cougars have to start proving they can be a powerhouse week in and week out. That’s the only way they can achieve the ultimate goal of national respect and legitimacy. That means dominating the weak teams and competing with the elite teams.

120px-BYUlogoIn 2015, the Cougars should have one goal in mind at this point and that is running the table the rest of the 2015 season. That means simply getting better as a team and proving they can handle a Power 5-packed season from start to finish.

With the great start to the 2015 schedule, BYU turned some heads. But with only one more Power 5 conference team on the schedule (Missouri) and no ranked teams, the Cougars need some really big, convincing wins to keep those heads turned. They have already proven they can compete with any team in the country (like they did with Nebraska, Boise State, UCLA), but still needs to prove they can pull away from their weaker competition.

This program got back on track by beating a much-improved Connecticut team at home 30-13 last Saturday. Cougar fans across the country are sleeping better this week after their bounce-back win following the emotional loss to UCLA and shutout loss to Michigan.

Photo courtesy BYU Athletics
Photo courtesy BYU Athletics

As a former BYU player, I was happy to see several senior players (like Bronson Kaufusi and Mitch Mathews) step up again. Big time. Mathews got my player of the game with two second half TDs. This senor leadership is infectious and it creates a winning atmosphere. Hopefully the youngsters are learning and picking up on the correct habits to lead this program in the right direction.

BYU has already played through the hardest first five games in the country and now is looking to take on a really solid 3-2 East Carolina Pirates. College football insiders called the Cougars’ September schedule the hardest in all of college football. UConn and now East Carolina have turned out to be extremely competitive and downright good teams so far in 2015.

BYU is playing a total of three AAC (American Athletic Conference) teams this year and they will all prove to be bigger challenges than most predicted in the preseason. With teams like Missouri, Utah State and Cincinnati in the near future, the Cougars cannot afford drop a game during this four-game stretch of winnable home games.

Truthfully, the only way to impress potential Power 5 teams right now is to dominate games.

As far as BYU and East Carolina, this will mark the first time these two programs play each other and could turn out to be one great game. Both teams are 3-2 and this could be a very pivotal game in the season for the Cougars. A big win could propel BYU into an impressive stretch of wins. Including this Saturday, the Cougars will likely be favored in their next four games (ECU, Cincinnati, Wagner and San Jose State). Yes, BYU should head to Kansas City to face the Missouri Tigers with a 7-2 record in mid-November.

This Saturday, it’s Homecoming for BYU (5:30 p.m. on ESPNU) and although the East Carolina Pirates are not ranked in the Top 25, they are no slouch and have already beaten Virginia Tech, SMU and Towson so far in 2015.

Certainly, BYU should not take the Pirates lightly. They barely lost on the road to No. 11-ranked Florida 31-24. BYU is favored by eight points to beat ECU, according to the Vegas line.

Tanner Mangum will be able to move the ball at home and put points on the board, so this game will come down to the Cougars defense. The Pirates junior quarterback, James Summers, is a dual threat QB that Bronco’s defense will have to shut down to win.

Mendenhall will have to gameplan around either containing Summers, forcing him into using his arm or playing coverage and keeping things underneath. When you try to do too much with a dual threat QB, you will lose on both sides.

BYU should have some ideas having watched and learned from Taysom Hill over the last few years.

Although ECU will provide solid competition, a little consistency from the Cougars will go a long way in getting a win this week and perhaps gaining a little more respect around the country.

Blue Blood is a sports column written by Scott Young. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

 

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